5 Technologies That Are Finding Their Home In Modern Clinics

In a doctor’s overscheduled life, the one thing that has elevated premium is ‘time’. Hospital visits, clinics, surgeries, and paperwork are just a few of the things that fill up a doctor’s day. With little or no time left in hand after doing the most important thing that they do, that is to look after their patients, managing a doctor’s diary is no mean feat. However, given the time that we are in, technology is making itself quite comfortable in the doctor’s clinic and helping that ecosystem become more organised, sorted and productive, which, at the end of the day, is making the life of the doctor easier to manage. In this blog, we take a look at five technologies that are making their home in modern day clinics and helping them function better, smarter and with greater efficiency

Appointment Management System

Managing multiple calendars for appointment management is a time-consuming task, one that is prone to the errors of overscheduling which leads to poor time management. Modern day clinics are leveraging appointment management applications that give them a bird’s eye view of the doctor’s schedule and helps them plan, schedule and organise patient appointment better and avoid overlaps. Since most doctors usually have more than one clinic to run, with the help of such a system scheduling and re-scheduling of appointments can be done with greater efficiency and each clinic can keep track of the daily appointment schedule without the burden of unnecessary overlaps.

Patient Data Management

In order to enhance the quality of care and improve patient outcomes, patient data management systems are being leveraged not only by large hospitals but smaller clinics as well. Having a central data repository that contains all the relevant patient information can be a huge boon for the doctors. There are so many times that the doctor and patient’s time is rendered unproductive because the patient is not able to provide some relevant report or health-related information at the time of the appointment. Having a record of all reports, x-rays, blood work, scans, lab reports, and other such test results and patient history etc. in one central database that can be accessed anytime, anywhere ensures that the time spent with the patient is productive and constructive and unnecessary delays are avoided at all costs.

Smartphones aka mHealth

Since smartphones today are being used for everything from managing your banking and finance activities to shopping, why should healthcare be left behind? Doctors today are using their smartphone for a lot more activities than just checking their emails. Healthcare applications that allow them to manage their practice, access patient data and health records, check their clinic’s finances, referrals and resource utilisation etc. are witnessing increased adoption. With the help of technologies such as the cloud, all the information that a doctor could want to ensure that his/her practice is running smoothly is now readily accessible at their fingertips through their smartphone. Utilising such integrated healthcare management applications is helping doctors manage their time better as they can access any piece of information that they want, when they want, irrespective of where they are.

Big Data Analytics

Big Data has generated a lot of hype and the healthcare industry is no stranger to this technology. While for a decade or so, big data adoption was done primarily by larger medical outfits and pharma companies to improve their outcomes, accelerate innovation and drive research, big data analytics is now making its home in modern day clinics as well. Such clinics are utilising data analytics to meet their analytics and reporting needs and improve patient outcomes. For example, with the help of big data analytics, clinics dig deep into patient data and lab results to identify trends in a year when a particular ailment strikes more viciously than others. It can also help them identify patients who are ‘at-risk’ for these ailments and help them take preventive action. Data analytics is also being used in clinics to analyse the relationships between treatment plans and diagnostics, identify potential treatment plans, establish benchmarks for quality, optimise operational workflow management and also create data-driven patient population lists.

AI Diagnostics

While computers and Artificial Intelligence cannot replace doctors, they most certainly can help the doctors by providing them with clinically relevant data in real-time to better patient outcomes. Diagnostic AI systems are already in use in some modern day clinics and use biometric data clubbed with the patients’ health data to assess the conversation between the doctor and patient and make notes and suggest treatment plans. AI systems also send pop-up notifications to the doctor’s phones when they see that a particular medication might not work for a person for some reason such as a genetic trait. This allows the doctor to change the prescribed medication quickly. These systems can also help doctors identify which patients are more likely to require certain medications in the future and assess the risks associated with alternate medications etc.

Just like hospital management systems have made hospital operations better and have significantly helped in improving patient outcomes, adopting technology in the modern day clinic is only going to improve efficiencies, help doctors win the race against time, and enable them to keep their focus on the singularly most important facet of the entire healthcare ecosystem – the patient.

Doctors – Demonetisation is a Signal to Start Better Financial Planning

Most conversations in India over the past month have been singularly about one thing and one thing alone – ‘demonetisation’.  Many of us have indulged in long drawn conversation about the effects of this move – Some accepted it. Some battled it. But at the end of it all, most of us have taken this move in our stride having understood the reason behind this move – to curb hoarding of black money and end the shadow economy. Before dismissing this blog as ‘another blog on demonetisation’ let’s make our intent clear. Our intent here is not to analyse this move but instead, take a look at how some of the busiest people in our country, our doctors, can manage their finances in the wake of intense scrutiny.

Doctors, especially those who run their own private practice and at the same time, consult with a multitude of hospitals always need to ensure that their financial books are in an organised shape. With the move of demonetisation, it now has become imperative that every transaction is accounted for. Given that the doctors are already spent for the time managing their busy schedules, practices, and patient engagements, it becomes all the more imperative to follow good finance management practices to avoid undue scrutiny.

Revenue Management

Doctors today have to ensure that they have a comprehensive revenue management strategy for their practice. Whether it is the hospital that they are linked with or a private practice, it is essential that all transactions are listed out and documented correctly. However, it would be unrealistic to expect doctors who are already running against the clock to be able to manage this along with the work that they are already doing. Leveraging technology and implementing an electronic health management system that easily records and captures all patient related information, services provided and revenue generated is a good place to start in the demonetisation era.

Information Management

Information management is essential for good financial management at this time. All patient related information needs to be filed and documented properly for easy access at the time of assessments. Along with patient information, doctors also need to ensure that all the transactions with vendors, nurses, staff, technician and all other ancillary incomes, expenditures and outflows such as salaries etc. are itemised and enumerated. Proper documentation of transactions with diagnostic centres and laboratories, medical stores etc. also becomes essential in this economic climate.

Clear Accounting Practices

The one thing that doctors have to have in place is an effective billing system. Many doctor’s practices do not have clear and documented collection processes in place. A proper billing system will not only record the transaction that has been processed but will also account for all information related to billing such as insurance claims and denials, proper listing of aging claims, method and mode of payment collection from patients, bad debts and doctor referral charges and fees etc. Having clear accounting practices and adhering to all compliance norms also has become mandatory in this battle against the shadow economy. Inflows from clinics, endorsements, referral fees, consultation fees, daily transactions, and outflows, all have to be properly documented for the taxman given the increased scrutiny on taxation, end of the year audits and increased emphasis on maintaining regulatory compliance.

ePayment Options

The demonetisation drive also places an increased emphasis on electronic payments for record management and transaction tracking. Given that at the present time most people are looking for cashless options for making transactions, providing secure ePayment options to patients to make the transaction process easier and seamless becomes imperative for doctors.

In view of the changing dynamics of the day, doctors, thus, need to have a solution that will help them monitor and manage their finances well and with ease. While hiring external resources is one solution, doctors can also leverage technology to ensure that the day to day financial management happens seamlessly. Having said that, the technology solution has to be easy to access and to use and should allow the doctor to focus on the most important subject – the patient. Using a comprehensive smartphone application, like the MARSPLUS app, that is simple to use and does not demand great technical expertise, allows easy practice and financial management –anytime and from anywhere. It can become the doctors’ best friend to help them navigate the choppy waters of the demonetisation era.